Friday, April 20, 2012

upholstering a cane-back chair

For Pride and Prejudice at Lifeline Theatre, the designer, director and I pulled three upholstered chairs from stock that we liked. They were covered in a dark burgundy fabric with upholstery tacks all along the edges. I knew I needed to recover them to make them fit much more with the pastel, delicate world of the show. I was having a fairly easy time of it on the seat,
 and on the front side of the back. 
When I got around to the back side of the back I encountered a problem. These had at one point been cane-back chairs.
Whoever had upholstered them previously had just stapled in fabric as best as they could, but the fabric was loose and wrinkled and the staples were visible in places. That would never work for this show.
I decided what I needed to do was to create a new, semi-rigid panel that would fit into the back of the chair to cover the cane.
I started by using printer paper, folding, creasing and taping it in place to create a pattern of the space that I needed to cover.
 I traced this pattern onto a piece of illustration board and cut it out,
 then I used spray adhesive to attach my fabric to the front side of my cut-out.
I slit the extra fabric all along the edge of the board so that I could smoothly fold the fabric over onto the back (where it was again attached with spray adhesive).

Finally I slowly worked the board into the back of the chair. In many places I was able to wedge the illustration board between the wood frame and the old cane so that, in the end, the back panel stays securely wedged in places without any glue or staples of any kind.
 Which also means that someone can easily remove the panel and repeat the process the next time the chairs are recovered.

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